Clifford Scott - Out Front

Clifford Scott Out Front (Pacific Jazz 1963)

Check out this readily ignored but seriously hip and crafty piece of soul jazz and hard bop: tenor saxophonist Clifford Scott’s Out Front.

Clifford Scott - Out Front

Personnel

Clifford Scott (tenor and alto saxophone), Joe Pass (guitar), Les McCann (piano), Herbie Lewis (bass), Paul Humphrey (drums)

Recorded

in 1963 at Pacific Jazz Studio in Los Angeles, California

Released

as PJ-66 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Samba De Bamba
Over And Over
As Rosie And Ellen Dance
Crosstalk
Side B:
Why Don’t You Do Right
Just Tomorrow
Out Front


As rhythm and blues developed into the most popular black music in the late forties and early fifties, a lot of jazz-oriented musicians jumped the bandwagon in order to make a decent living. Perhaps decent isn’t the appropriate term. Regularly, players switched from swing bands to r&b outfits, which usually meant a change from one grueling touring schedule to another. One bows in awe to them in hindsight, the way guys like Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Red Holloway, Don Wilkerson or Sam “The Man” Taylor, survived. Tenor saxophonist Clifford Scott, born in San Antonio, Texas in 1928, deceased in 1993, traveled a similar route.

Scott worked with Amos Milburn, Jay McShann, Lionel Hampton, Roy Brown and Roy Milton in the early fifties. Scott provided the groundbreaking honking tenor solo on organist Bill Doggett’s jukebox hit in 1955, Honky Tonk. He stayed with Doggett for a number of years. Subsequently, Scott acted as a leader, trying to capitalize on the honking hype with singles bearing gimmicky titles like Bushy Tail and The Kangaroo, and recorded as a prominent session musician in the r&b and pop field. His last big stint, before settling down as a local hero in San Antonio, was with the Ray Charles band, intermittently, from 1966 to 1970.

Based on the West Coast in the sixties, Scott was featured on a number of Pacific Jazz albums by the organ combo Billy Larkin & The Delegates. Scott recorded Plays The Big Ones on Pacific Jazz in 1963, a gritty soul jazz date featuring Hammond organ. It’s a nice enough date but incomparable with Scott’s subsequent album, Out Front!. During that session, Scott expanded his scope, holding on to the fried-bacon notes and the occasional crowd-pleasing climaxes, while displaying distinct suppleness and double-time fluency. Coming with the slightest vibrato, Scott’s style is sensual as hell, and hot as hell as well.

Sensual also applies to the Les McCann Trio, which consists of McCann, bassist Herbie Lewis, drummer Paul Humphrey, plus Joe Pass, as in: attractive, uplifting, rousing. McCann had cooperated with Joe Pass on Richard “Groove” Holmes’ Something Special, Les McCann’s Featuring Joe Pass, On Time and Soul Hits. The gospel-drenched vigor and probing accompaniment of McCann, the group’s abundant swing and the subtle and peppery phrases of Pass provide a stimulating canvas for the lurid, lean strokes of Scott, whom one imagines must’ve been elated with the possibility of working with such an immaculate quartet.

And as is usual with the presence of McCann on a recording date, the pianist contributes a couple of catchy tunes, like the driving Out Front and the crisp stop-time cooker Over And Over, which is marked by the typical McCann device of a shift in key. McCann also wrote Crosstalk, killer greasy tune that is pure Bo Diddley’s Not Fade Away, thriving on the rousing beat and statements of McCann and Pass and the rubato wail of Scott that takes one by surprise like a tornado in New Mexico: a soul jazz gem stopping at a mere 2.45 minutes.

Samba De Bamba is a different ball game, an equally swinging, Latin hard bop tune. Developing his story from sophisticated, fluent phrasing to the kind of terse blowing of Ben Webster, Scott reveals himself as a singular stylist. This, perhaps, comes as no surprise considering his past in the swing era. It is surprising, though, that the saxophonist wasn’t granted the opportunity to record more extensively throughout his career, except for a couple of albums in the early 90’s. More than that, it is a shame.

Listen to the full album here.

Charles Kynard - Reelin' With The Feelin'

Charles Kynard Reelin’ With The Feelin’ (Prestige 1969)

I first became aware of organist Charles Kynard a long time ago, when listening to a Tom Waits record, Blue Valentines. Greasy, sharp-as-a-knife organ injections were the cherries on top of Romeo Is Bleeding, one of that jazzy, theatrical shuffles that the incomparable growler and storyteller Tom Waits brings with so much zest. Ever quick to scroll through sleeve info, I bumped into the name of Kynard.

Charles Kynard - Reelin' With The Feelin'

Personnel

Charles Kynard (organ), Wilton Felder (tenor saxophone), Joe Pass (guitar), Carol Kaye (electric bass), Paul Humphrey (drums)

Recorded

on August 11, 1969 in Los Angeles, California

Released

as PR 7688 in 1969

Track listing

Side A:
Reelin’ With The Feelin’
Soul Reggae
Slow Burn
Side B:
Boogalooin’
Be My Love
Stomp


My mind went elsewhere, as minds often have the inkling to do. Yet, Kynard had stayed in the back of my mind and when I started digging organ jazz of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson and Lonnie Smith, out of the ditch climbed Kynard as well. What I learned is that the fact that Kynard did a Waits date is part of the proof that the organist’s nature was ambidextrous. Kynard is best known for his groovy funk and blues recordings on Prestige and Mainstream. But he also was a regular attributor to Hollywood productions and played gospel in church as well.

Reelin’ With The Feelin’ is Kynard’s third release on Prestige and a fitting example of his blues and soul jazz personality. It has an interesting line-up including guitarist Joe Pass – not often heard in such surroundings – The Jazz Crusaders’ tenorist Wilton Felder and ace studio bassist, Carol Kaye. Re-listening this album only for Kaye’s delicious dry, plucky sound and articulate style, is, as I now know for a fact, a far from weird effort, but on the contrary, very worthwhile.

The three longest cuts of the album – Reelin’ With The Feelin’, Slow Burn and Boogalooin’ – written by arranger Richard Fritz, are fresh funkblues jams. Slow Burn is the highlight. The tight rhythm consisting of tacky drums and a rumbling bass figure so deep it makes you wonder how deep the ocean is in Carol Kaye’s mind, sets things in motion. From then on things are hard to pull to a stop. Kynard builds his solo well, veering from crunchy bass notes to burning rubber-phrases in the upper register. Felder puts in a yearning statement and throws in squeaky and honky twists. Joe Pass produces a mix of funky licks and fast, tricky phrases that travel beyond the confines of the pentatonic blues format. Ever thus, Slow Burn has to come to an end, and it does with a humorous stretch of notes by Kynard.

Predictably, Carol Kaye’s Soul Reggae is a reggae-type tune. It’s a charming ditty that bounces along merrily. Is Kaye the first to incorporate reggae into a jazz format? She might well be. In 1969, reggae wasn’t as yet the big thing it would become when Bob Marley got into the picture. Be My Love is a nice Latin tune. Kynard’s solo is a throat grabber, containing swift, fiery and freewheelin’ phrases, occasional outbursts and repeated r&b attacks. Stomp, written by Wilton Felder, is a variation of Dizzy Gillespie’s Blue ‘n’ Boogie. The drums fail to swing, but the immaculate unisono figures each couple plays behind the given soloist give it the necessary bite. As you may have noticed, Kynard didn’t bring any tunes to this session. You’ll hear, however, that it doesn’t effect the very pleasant and funky proceedings.

Charles Kynard’s date with Tom Waits took place in 1978. He died on July 8, 1979. There’s no such thing as an appropriate passing, but Kynard’s comes close. He died while playing his home organ.